【Booklet】Trace the origin of cooperative in JAPAN (Jan 1, 2015) <Tosuke Hirata and Yajiro Shinagawa> Protect small and medium-sized producers / First sangyokumiai (cooperatives) law


Meiji government after the Meiji Restoration aimed for “encouragement of new industry”, and tried the promotion of agriculture, main industry at that time. Mr. Tohru Shimizu, general manager of Basic Research Division of Norinchukin Research Institue Co.,Ltd, points out that Meiji government ordered the European literature, invited European scholars, and at last found out about existence of mechanism of European cooperatives.

Tosuke Hirata (1849-1925) studied in Germany after he joined the Tomomi Iwakura delegation. He met Yajiro Shinagawa (1843-1900), Interior minister after, who had been stationed in the local. After returning home, Hirata became bureaucracy, and drafted “credit cooperatives bill” in order to protect small and medium-sized producers from loan sharks. However, the bill was scrapped due to the dissolution of Imperial Diet.

Mr. Masaaki Ishida, Invited Professor of Mie Unversity, points out that Shinagawa and Hirata made efforts nationwide so as to complain of the necessity of credit cooperatives. While progressing penetration of capitalism, Hirata and others were confident that “Only cooperatives can save the small and medium-sized merchants around the farmers from downfall.” They continued to advance the research of cooperatives.

Thus, the first cooperatives law in Japan, “sangyokumiai (cooperatives) law” was established and came into force in 1900 between the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese war. After 10 years, “sangyokumiaichuokai (general association of cooperatives)” was established, and Hirata was appointed chairman of the association.

On the other hand, “nokai (chamber of agriculture)” to promote agricultural technology and management had a close relationship with sangyokumiai (cooperatives).

For example ,in one corner of the each village office, there had been office of nokai (chamber of agriculture), whose staff also worked for sangyokumiai (cooperatives) in the regime of the Trinity.

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